Newmarket Holidays credits trade as it plans further solo tours

Newmarket Holidays has credited the trade with helping to steer the tour operator’s growth as it plans to further capitalise on increased demand for solo travel.

Single travellers account for around 20% of current bookings with the escorted tour operator. This is up from around 14% in 2021.

The operator launched its Solo Traveller Collection last year of 25 tours to target single travellers who want group tours – which includes solo-only tours and existing tours with no single supplement. In November it added four exclusively solo tours to the collection.

Chief executive Niel Alobaidi said the collection would be further expanded with new tours for solo travellers – and anticipates the operator will carry double the number of solo travellers this year alone.

“In 2024 we will double our volume of solo travellers compared to 2023, supported by the recent launch of 10 ‘exclusively solo’ tours, and we aim to double the volume again in the next few years,” he said.

As well as adding new tours just for solo travellers, the operator will increase the number of departure dates with no single supplement across a range of other tours.

Alobaidi added: “Wee see it as an opportunity and expect to see lots of offerings across the industry catering for the solo traveller.”

Feedback from the trade and research with customers showed large and growing numbers of clients who are not single but want to travel on their own, which he described as a “real opportunity going forward”.

He said: “It’s easy to pigeonhole single customers but these are not single people and it’s a huge growth area. Our customers are demonstrating a more adventurous spirit and willingness to travel on their own, with like-minded people, and our product is perfectly suited to that.

“The number of people who want to travel on their own is expected to grow significantly. We have spoken to trade partners and done customer research to tailor our proposition more [for this market].”

He credited the trade with helping to steer the operator’s growth plans by providing valuable feedback.

Revenue from travel agents made up 40% of Newmarket’s total sales in 2023 – the highest level to date – and continue to increase, he said.

“Since the pandemic the trade has really got behind us and that has helped us to bounce back,” he said, adding: “The trade helps to find new products in our long haul portfolio. We talk to the trade and it makes us change things that are not quite right and add new product; it’s a brilliant relationship.”

Feedback from agents had already led to the operator launching more twin stays combining an Africa safari trip with a beach stay, for example in Mauritius, improving the product in its Japan tours, and adding more adventurous tours to its short haul programme.

“Agents bring us such valuable feedback and so for new products it’s really important that we get their take,” added Alobaidi.

He also hinted that the operator could grow its cruise product. He said: “Cruise is also an area we are looking at.”

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